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This year`s top new terms

Posted December. 22, 2012 00:30,   


The Channel A TV program “Welcome to Si-World” invites actresses and their daughters-in-law to share sensitive stories about relations between them. “Si-world” is a new term meaning in-laws. The program recently covered “Si-chin-myeo,” which became the talk of the town. “Si-chin-myeo” is an acronym of a Korean expression referring to “the daughter-in-law of a friend of a mother-in-law.” “Si-chin-myeo” is someone whom a mother-in-law talks about to make her daughter-in-law feel bad about herself because the “si-chin-myeo” is beautiful, well-educated, excellent at housework, from a wealthy family, and well-versed in filial affection toward her in-laws.

Countless new terms are born and die in a year. Some are full of wit and humor, but others feel awkward. Neologisms reflect a social trend enough to depict the society of the time. “Menbung (mental breakdown)” is among this year’s more notable new terms. It describes a person in mental panic after experiencing a hard-to-grasp and shocking event, reflecting the sad reality that things do not progress as expected. The skit “Menbung School” on a TV comedy program was so popular in Korea, the ruling Saenuri Party’s presidential candidate Park Geun-hye in August said, “I’m close to Menbung due to the excessive criticism of me.” This proved that the term had become a daily expression.

English dictionary publisher Collins of the U.K. recently unveiled this year’s top 12 monthly terms. The publisher selected 12 expressions that best depicted big issues of the year. In February, actress Angelina Jolie was talked about on the Internet for her exposure of her right thigh on the red carpet at the Academy Awards. This led to the opening of a Twitter account titled “The right thigh of Angelina Jolie” and the new term “leg bomb.” “Mom’s porno,” which described the bestselling erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey,” was selected the top new term for April and “Gangnam Style” for November.

The fall of the social network service industry was described as “Zucked,” a word derived from the name of Facebook`s founder Mark Zuckerberg, to express the ability of a billionaire`s assets to drastically contract in a moment. “Eurogeddon” was coined to describe the European economic crisis, “fiscal cliff” for the worrisome situation in the U.S. due to conflicts over spending cuts and tax increases. Both Eurogeddon and fiscal cliff are ominous expressions reminding people of serious economic woes. Will the new year see more auspicious new words?

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)